Salvatore Scarpitta, Installation view of “Traveler” with (Left) Sled Log, 1973, wood, canvas, resin, and mixed media, 226 x 68.6 x 86.4 cm.; and (right)Snowshoe Sled, 1974, canvas, resin, paint, wood, and leather, 220 x 242.6 x 10.2 cm.

Salvatore Scarpitta

Washington, DC

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Nowadays countless artists make use of everyday discards, but Salvatore Scarpitta (1919–2007) was a trailblazer at, as he put it, “introduc[ing] into the art experience the life experience.” Given his passion for cars, he didn’t just recycle car parts. He constructed actual racing cars and participated directly in the sport. In this sensitively curated show, the presence of an absent user was felt anonymously, while his touch was ubiquitous. Throughout, one sensed Scarpitta’s energy reaching beyond the grave, a kind of silent pulse stirring just below the surface, yet digging deep into the psyche and gut to impart vitality to the works on view. The contrasting stillness of the galleries created an inescapable tension. Better known in Europe than in the U.S…see the entire review in the print version of April’s Sculpture magazine.

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